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At what age does a child start thinking about a career?

(35 Posts)
kerrymumbles Wed 31-Aug-11 10:20:11

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AMumInScotland Wed 31-Aug-11 10:30:18

Any time from about 7 up till 30+ IME grin

DS decided what he wanted to do at about 7, and hasn't wavered from it since.

I picked a subject I enjoyed at school, and carried on with it at uni - not because I wanted to spend my life doing it, but just because it was something I enjoyed. Then I got a job doing something completely unrelated and found it suited me - but I never sat down and thought "I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up" it just sort of happened.

kerrymumbles Wed 31-Aug-11 10:45:36

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happygardening Wed 31-Aug-11 10:56:57

My DS1 (14) did not have any idea about what he wanted to do till he joined the local ATC (air training corps) earlier this year now he wants to either join the RAF or army. My younger son (13) is interested in medicine or law although I've put him off the former as I believe he's temperamentally unsuited to it, he's been talking about these two careers for a couple of years. I work with children and lots of boys haven't got the faintest idea about what they want to do. My husband never knew what he wanted to do even when he had his A level results! I think boys find it harder than girls.

tabulahrasa Wed 31-Aug-11 11:06:55

DS is 15, he hasn't really got a clue - he's very good and interested in sciencey subjects, and wants to do something in that sort of field, well most days, lol. But he hasn't narrowed it down any more than that really. Uni's looking likely based on his progress at school.

I'm not bothered particularly, if we're at the point of him applying for uni and he can't pick a course I might, but plenty of people pick a degree course because it leaves options afterwards and they can decide after that.

At 12 in my opinion, unless they have a particular talent or strong interest in something, they're not likely to have a realistic career plan and it's just a case of making sure they apply themselves to a broad range of subjects.

My 11 DD is still at the point of wanting to be a popstar even though she's tone deaf, lol

AMumInScotland Wed 31-Aug-11 11:09:02

I think all you can do is help him look at what sorts of subjects he enjoys and/or is good at and work from there. It's more about staying reasonably broad to start with, and narrowing down to things you do well at, then seeing where that leads you.

The school won't let him choose too bad a set of subjects - assuming you're thinking about what he might do for GCSEs - so you just help him pick from the available options, and hope it becomes clearer as he goes along.

KeepingUpWithTheCojones Wed 31-Aug-11 11:15:58

Some people know very young if they're heading towards a career as a doctor, lawyer, teacher etc.

But most people (ime) end up doing jobs they didn't even know existed when they were at school.

verlainechasedrimbauds Wed 31-Aug-11 11:21:23

I think it depends on the child and also a little bit on what those around them are doing and thinking. DS knew what he wanted to do from very early on (aptitude clear at around 5,interest from around 8, seriously pursuing it from around 13). DD had all sorts of ideas, from the predictable(ballerina, nurse, policewoman) to the slightly less predictable (lorry driver, astronaut). DD then seemed to spend some time chasing the same dream as DS, which may not have been the right one for her but I think was partly her competitive spirit. She's 21 now and has changed direction a few times and is still not quite sure. I think this is partly because she is very good at quite a lot of things but is also highly competitive and wants to be the best at whatever she does.

My DS has a friend like this: highly intelligent, very, very good grades at school, multiple extra-curricular activities, entrepreneurial spirit - currently doing a bit of a pirouette in life in his 20s not knowing where to go at all and working as a waiter (whilst exploring some of the 374 ideas he has for taking over the world).

I think it can be difficult to empathise/know what to do for the best if you knew what you wanted to do. In my experience though, talking to quite a lot of young people, knowing exactly what you want to do is the exception rather than the rule. I would think the best thing to do is try and work out whether he is happy being rudderless (some people are) and just try to help him make the most of experiences and opportunities as they crop up. Lots of people don't really find their "calling" until they are in their 20s, 30s, 40s. I think there are some who never really do but who are reasonably happy just living life and seeing what happens!

lemonmousse Wed 31-Aug-11 11:28:33

My 12 yo DD wants to be a Speech and Language Therapist atm based purely on a short 'SAL in the classroom' course that I went on and used her as my guinea pig for several exercises!

She just thinks it looks really interesting and likes the idea of working with children. Great if she carries on to make it a career.

DD2(11) wants to be a teacher (but only for 'nice' children - no bullies or badly behaved boys in her class grin) she will also work in a bar and run a beauty salon at weekends! shock

ragged Wed 31-Aug-11 11:41:49

I am very impressed by anyone with a realistic career plan at age 12.

Also, it's quite common nowadays to have a series of different but at best only vaguely related careers; DS11yo has only vague notions what he'd like to do; fine, I will just encourage him to do as challenging material (courses, qualifications) as he can do with some enthusiasm to keep his options open.

DD9 says she wants to be a "famous horse rider". I am trying to steer her towards anything that pays well, esp. to do with animals (Vet would be good, but time will tell if she has right stuff or wants to work that hard), so that she can expect to afford to have her own pony one day. That's where the adult realistic guidance comes in wink.

mistlethrush Wed 31-Aug-11 11:46:26

Ds determined his career aged 4, and so far has stuck by it (he's 6). He's going to be a surgeon. History of it on both sides of the family - so not completely out of the question. Lawyer is another possibility based on his absolute faith in himself and ability to talk (no offence meant to any lawyers present grin)

throckenholt Wed 31-Aug-11 11:53:32

I never had a realistic career plan (not even now in mid 40s !). I knew I wanted to go to university by mid teens, and roughly what subject but I never had any idea what job I wanted to do.

The job I do now I fell into - never planned to do it.

strictlovingmum Wed 31-Aug-11 12:15:53

DS 16 now, sort of stuck with subjects he is very good at, it helped I suppose that he also enjoy those subjects, same lot he will do for AS, A levels and hopefully something along the same lines he will pick for a degree.
I personally think it helps to recognise pretty early on strengths of a child and per sue it, he always was very interested from early childhood in how things work, and calculating probability of things, it served him well so far, but what the future holds, no one knows, we will have to wait and seesmile

nagynolonger Wed 31-Aug-11 12:56:27

If they have no idea I think all they can do is stick with what they are good at and enjoy and hope that it leads to something in the end. My 18 yearold is good at sport, enjoys music and has done well in the sciences at school but does not want to go to university. Fear of large debt is the main reason. I think not really knowing what he wants to do may have played a part. He has managed to secure an apprenticeship place but is worried he has made the wrong choice.
The 16 and 14 yearolds only have definate ideas about what they don't want to do. That's MFL and history and art!
All 3 are willing to work and don't sit around expecting everything on a plate so I'm not worried.

Fennel Wed 31-Aug-11 14:50:41

I think if you decide too soon you only have the more obvious career options to choose from. I was planning on medicine from 12-16, because that's the sort of career children have heard of. I changed my mind at 16 cos I discovered what philosophy was and thought that would be more interesting to study. and then I discovered the social sciences and settled quite happily into them. I'm far more suited to social science than medicine. But you don't usually know about those subjects and options as a child.

nocake Wed 31-Aug-11 15:00:14

I didn't decide what I wanted to do as a career until I was offered my first job after finishing uni. Seriously. I work in IT but did my degree in something completely different. When I graduated I applied for any job that I thought looked interesting and ended up programming computers.

DW says she still doesn't know what she wants to do when she grows up and she's in her 30s.

Very few 12 year olds will know what then want to do with their lives. He should keep his options open as long as he can and work hard at all subjects. When he has to start making choices for GCSE then he can think more about what subjects he prefers.

GnomeDePlume Wed 31-Aug-11 15:40:12

Depends on the individual I think. I knew what I wanted from around 15, went on and did/do it. DH didnt/doesnt know and has never really settled.

DCs (15, 12 & 11) all have definite ideas.

DH says to the DCs - better to have a plan, though it might be wrong. No plan is definitely going to be wrong.

cat64 Wed 31-Aug-11 23:55:35

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cat64 Wed 31-Aug-11 23:56:45

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kerrymumbles Thu 01-Sep-11 09:43:47

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kerrymumbles Thu 01-Sep-11 09:46:08

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bigTillyMint Thu 01-Sep-11 10:12:22

I knew what I wanted to do when I was small.

DD has wanted to do the same since she could talk. She is now 12 and doing even better than I thought. I keep encouraging her to consider all options - 12 is very young to make that decision.

FWIW, DS was asking if the money was good in a shop at the service station because he saw the shop assistant showing custmers how to fly a remote-controlled helicopter grin

AMumInScotland Thu 01-Sep-11 10:49:45

TBH at 12, I wouldn't expect him to have much idea about what use uni might be to him, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. Better to focus on why getting a decent set of GCSEs will be useful to him whatever he ends up doing - that should keep him adequately focussed for now, then you can work up to "Why A Levels are important" and then on to Uni/college/apprenticeship/job questions.

Most 12 yos (specially boys I think) can't really picture the future ahead of the next few weeks/months, so the idea fo going to uni doesn't have much meaning, unless they want to be a doctor/lawyer/scientist and can see the connection between uni and the job.

My DS was unusual in knowing what he wants from an early age - but since that is music, it's maybe different from thinking about "a job" as its a hobby first and he just hopes he can make a living at it!

kerrymumbles Thu 01-Sep-11 11:40:06

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Giselle99 Sun 04-Sep-11 15:06:49

I decided on what I wanted to do (medicine) when I was 13. It was important to do this as it shaped the subject choices I made at 14. However I know many people who came to medicine as late as early 40s so I don't think it matters. I almost gave up medicine shortly after graduating as I decided I wasn't suited to it. Luckily I found a specialty that suited my temperament and haven't looked back, but my choice at 13 was based on TV programmes and other family members who were doctors, not a real understanding of the profession.

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